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UNDERRATED SoCal Wine Region Gives Napa A Run For Its Money 🍷

Napa is good.

So is Sonoma.

But some SoCal locals like this underrated wine region even more.

And you won’t just get wineries and wine tasting here

You can take side-car wine tours, hot air balloon rides, and do horseback riding too.

And this place is slightly warmer than Napa too if you prefer warmer weather.

What Is It?


Temecula is a hidden gem nestled in southern California.

temecula city hall

This city is a wine region that has a vibrant mix of wine culture, historical charm, and outdoor allure.

While Napa and Sonoma are more established and globally recognized, Temecula’s winemakers are working towards gaining similar recognition, emphasizing quality and striving for excellence. 

And they’re doing a good job of it!

Napa and Sonoma both have their winemaking roots in the 1800s, but Temecula only really started in the second half of the 1900s!

But Temecula is definitely making a name for itself and a lot of high-quality wines come from the region.

Things To Do In Temecula

There’s quite a lot you can do in Temecula but here’s a quick summary of things you can do.

Embark on a wine-tasting adventure across Temecula’s wineries.

Join a tour to make things easier for you.

temecula vineyard california

Stroll through Old Town Temecula, where history lives in every corner.

Experience luxury by staying at some of the best hotels in the area.

Soar above the vineyards in a breathtaking hot air balloon ride.

Engage in outdoor pursuits like horseback riding and hiking.

Explore Temecula’s only mined wine caves at Oak Mountain Winery.

If you’re into golf then check out one of the championship golf courses in the area.

Savor the local cuisine, with a culinary spectrum from wine country delights to global flavors.

Take part in Ponte Winery’s Annual Grape Stomp in September.

Go dancing in the west coast’s biggest country music venue ‘Temecula Stampede‘.

Where Is It?

Located in the heart of Riverside County, Temecula is a Southern California treasure.

Situated conveniently between Los Angeles and San Diego on the I-15.

how to get to temecula google maps graphic
  • From Los Angeles: about 85 miles (137km) southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
  • From San Diego: about 58 miles (93km) north of downtown San Diego
  • From San Bernadino: about 49 miles (79km) south of downtown San Bernadino. (Take I-215)


If you’re flying into the area, here are some of the nearest airports:

  • Ontario International Airport (ONT) 
  • San Diego International Airport (SAN)
  • John Wayne Airport, Orange County (SNA)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Palm Springs International Airport (PSP)

How Long Should I Spend?

This really depends on you as you can get away with doing just a day trip.

On the other hand, you could also stay up to 5 days and see everything in Temecula.

The ideal length for most people will probably be around 3 days.

This will give you enough time to do a lot of activities and see what the place has to offer without feeling rushed or running out of things to do.

When Is The Best Time To Go

Best Time of Year

Temecula, with its year-round mild climate, is always welcoming.

Each season, however, offers its own charm and you should time your visit based on what you want from your trip:


Pleasant weather and not as busy as summer.


The busiest time; plan ahead for a bustling experience.

Ripe grapes fill the vineyards.


Experience the magic of the grape harvest and cooler temperatures.


Enjoy the tranquility of the off-season and great deals​​.

But don’t expect lush greenery or vineyards full of grapes.

If you want to see specific things:

If you want to see lush green, vineyards then the best months are from May to September.

If you want to see grapes hanging in the vineyards the best months are the summer months just before harvest has taken place. July is a great month for this.

If you want to see the hot air balloons fill the sky then make sure to go during the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival on the first weekend in June.

Best Time of Week

In general, you should visit between Monday and Thursday if you want to beat the crowds and have a more peaceful experience.

Friday is a good in-between day if you still want it to be lively as people arrive for weekend getaways.

Why Do People Go To Temecula?

People flock to Temecula for a taste of its renowned wine country.

With just under 50 diverse wineries, it’s a hotspot for wine lovers.

But there’s more: the historic Old Town, outdoor adventures, and a rich tapestry of culinary and cultural experiences also attract visitors.

One thing the area is famous for is the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival which happens annually on the first weekend in June.

Are The Wines In Temecula Good?

Yes, Temecula wines are very good!

In fact, 33 wines produced by its member wineries received Double Gold and Gold ratings at the annual Toast of the Coast Wine Competition in 2023.

You can find out more about the award-winning wines at the Temecula Wines Website.

Top Tips

The Visit Temecula Valley website has a lot of useful information and a visitor guide too that you can read through.Β 

You should also follow the Visit Temecula Instagram page to keep up to date with any upcoming events.

Check out this video by Visit California that goes over some of the highlights of Temecula…

Sophie Davis

Born and raised in the Bay area of California, Sophie is a California native. She joined our team in 2023 to create travel guides on California.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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